Belmont Stakes His rousing triumph in the Belmont completed what’s been called the most difficult feat in American sports: winning three races at three different distances in three different states over a five-week span, placing himself in the storied class of equine athletes to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont alongside Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015). Read more The three-year-old son of Scat Daddy and Stage Magic, who is collectively owned by China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing and Head of Plains Partners, didn’t compete in a race until the third week of February, but won every start of his compressed career, a total of six in 111 days with five of them going two turns, and became the second unbeaten horse to win the Triple Crown after the great Seattle Slew – and the only one of the entire lot to have not raced as a two-year-old.Less than three months after winning his debut at Santa Anita, Justify became the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a juvenile, then hung on in a surreal, enveloping fog to prevail by a half-length in the Preakness. After laboring to capture the first two jewels of the Triple Crown on sloppy courses, he led from wire to wire in the Belmont Stakes on a track rated fast and was never seriously challenged in completing a rare sweep of America’s three most famous races. Support The Guardian Share via Email Horse racing Share on Twitter Read more Reuse this content Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Kentucky Derby Twitter Since you’re here… Justify reigns supreme in Belmont to become 13th Triple Crown winner Justify, who was purchased for for $500,000 at Keeneland’s September yearling sale in 2016, amassed earnings of $3,798,000 in his career, though his breeding rights were reported to be worth a record $75m following his Triple Crown victory, ensuring a tidy return on investment for the complex ownership group behind him.Mike Smith, who rode Justify for all but his first start and at 52 became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown, called the horse “a gift from God”.“Like everyone else, I am disappointed he won’t run again, but I am thankful he came into my life,” Smith said. “There was never a time when I rode him that I felt like I was going to get beat. There was no horse who could run with him without sacrificing themselves, and there was no horse who could come get him.” US sports “He is an incredible horse and we are very disappointed he can’t run again,” WinStar owner Kenny Troutt said. “All things happen for a reason, and we are blessed to have raced him to be the 13th Triple Crown winner in history.”While the strapping colt with the white blaze running from his eyes to the tip of his nose is the lone Triple Crown winner to retire unbeaten, none of the others’ careers were nearly as abbreviated. Only American Pharoah, who made 11 starts winning all but two, was even in the neighborhood Justify’s six.WinStar’s chief executive Elliott Walden said Justify’s connections had been targeting a career swansong at the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but his recovery from the swollen ankle that had ruled out potential starts in the Haskell and the Travers was not moving along satisfactorily enough to schedule a prep race.“The timing is bad for another start in 2018, and therefore, we have to retire him,” Walden said. “Like American Pharoah, we can’t take the risk of running Justify as a four-year-old. We all wanted him to finish his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it was not meant to be. As has been reported, there is a possible sale to (Coolmore Stud) in place, but that won’t be finalized until a later date. We are excited to share him with our fans starting the middle of August after he gets acclimated.” Justify, the hulking chestnut colt who last month became the 13th horse to win thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown and only the second in four decades, will not race again due to an ankle filling and will retire undefeated, marking the end of a brief but scintillating career. “Justify had some filling in his ankle, and he is just not responding quick enough for a fall campaign,” trainer Bob Baffert said in a release issued Wednesday. “We all wanted to see Justify run again, but ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure he is perfect. Without 60-90 days, I can’t be definite.” … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Justify reigned supreme at the Belmont to capture the Triple Crown. The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Preakness Stakes Pinterest Facebook Share on LinkedIn Topics Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.